Originally written for City Journal.
Keilor Park locals are up in arms over a plan to build 72 townhouses in the centre of their neighbourhood.
Lodged by the state government’s urban planning arm Development Victoria in June, the proposal would see double-storey dwellings built on the vacant former site of Keilor Park Primary School, 14 kilometres north-west of Melbourne’s CBD.
The 1.8-hectare block has laid dormant for almost 10 years, following the school’s closure in 2008.
Residents were first told of the plans at information sessions held by Development Victoria in late June.
Local people promptly set up the Keilor Park Committee in response to the move, launching a postal survey across the suburb to gauge whether or not the community felt the development should go ahead.
Speaking on behalf of the Committee, Luca Pella says “99.8% of the responses so far have strongly opposed the development.”
As of August 3, the community group had received around 400 responses.
“We are also organising a community march in front of Parliament House,” he says.
Keilor Park resident Danielle Webb says she is “disappointed with what they (Development Victoria) came up with.”
“Given we have a useless community space which holds no more than 30 people, why not use that space to build a better community facility and put in some exercise equipment? We have a young family, and we don’t want to see the area turn into a place where we don’t feel safe,” she says.
State Member for Niddrie, Ben Carroll, shares the concerns.
“I do not support the development, in its current proposal, going ahead,” he says.
“I understand fully, that when a development’s put on the table of 72 double-storey townhouses on something that’s been blank for 10 years, naturally there’s going to be a massive reaction.”
Detailed planning for the development is currently underway, with an application from Development Victoria to be submitted to the Brimbank Council before any construction commences.
Brimbank Council Mayor Margaret Giudice says “after plans are advertised, our community will be able to view them and provide written feedback, which Council will consider as part of the application process.”
“I still think there is the possibility of a housing development there,” Mr Carroll says.
“But I do not support a proposal that is all double-storey townhouses.”
Featured image: A banner in Keilor Park protesting against the townhouse development. Photo: Anthony Furci.